The body of water known simply as “The Gorge” to Victoria locals is a narrow tidal inlet that connects Victoria Harbour to Portage Inlet. The Gorge Waterway is defined as the inlet between Craigflower Bridge and the Selkirk trestle. The Gorge has a rich history as an important spiritual place and food-gathering area for First Nations, and as a recreation area for Victoria residents.
Capital Regional District
The current Gorge Bridge connecting Saanich and Esquimalt along Tillicum Road was built in 1967, but that crossing had been used by First Nations for long before that. The first Gorge Bridge was constructed in 1848 by Roderick Finlayson, and consisted of five large Douglas fir logs laid across the narrows. Six other bridges followed, with the current version completed in 1967.
Interpretive sign captures history of Gorge Bridge (Victoria News)
The Gorge Bridge crosses “the Gorge”, the narrowest section of the 10-kilometre-long Gorge Waterway. The Gorge was the geographical centre of many attractionsand activities found along the Gorge Waterway during its historical heyday from 1880 to 1930 – a time when the waterway was renowned as one of Victoria’s main scenic attractions.” . . . To the east of the bridge there once were posh waterside mansions, bathhouse facilities for swimming and competition, the finish line for the Three Mile Swim, and dangerous high-diving towers. Steam-powered launches once cruised up the waterway from Victoria carrying tourists to view the “reversing falls”, visit Esquimalt’s Gorge Amusement Park, and enjoy the two waterside taverns. . . . To the west of the bridge, day-trippers from town enjoyed the Gorge Amusement Park (now Esquimalt Gorge Park) that opened in 1905 with rollercoaster rides, outdoor dances, variety shows and the ever-popular Japanese Tea Garden. . . . To reduce the steep approach, the fifth bridge was built at a greater height and was made five feet wider. The bridge officially opened July 6, 1899, and remained in service for 34 years.
Gorge Bridge, The Geographic Centre of the Gorgea